3.31.2022 – much lucubration

much lucubration,
confused line of thought – this way
of course, lies madness

Yes, I had to look it up.

Lucubration means study or mediation or a piece of writing, typically a pedantic or overelaborate one.

Like some blogs I know.

I seem to be stuck in rut quoting James Thurber lately.

His book on the founder of the New Yorker Magazine, The Years with Ross, is a trip to the dictionary waiting to happen.

I cannot vouch for its content or the stories told in the book except to mention that the White’s. EB and Katherine Angell, did not care for the book and thought the portrayal of Ross by Thurber was unnecessarily unkind.

The writing.

The contruction.

The play of words against each other.

It is fun to read for the writing.

Then with the discussion of how Harold Ross edited short stories.

Well, like I said, I have been dipping in and out of it over and again since I was able to get a copy in ebook form.

The passage in particular dealt with how long a certain story took to write.

Thurber is quoting another managing editor, Stanley Walker, who said about Harold Ross (Thurber wrote):

“He thought such a story should have required at least a week’s work and painful lucubration. Then, following this confusing line of thought, he wondered if he were not being cheated by the writers who took too much time. This way, of course, lies madness.”

It must have been crazy wonderful to work in that environment I think.

Most of my working career has been spent working in ‘Creative’ Deaprtments.

I have had great bosses who understood that the last thing you want to do is creative people is force them into a system and take away the thing that makes them creative.

I have had bosses who believed in the system and did not care a fig about the output so long as all the check marks were checked.

This way, of course, lies madness.

Thurber ends these couple of pages with one last quote from Mr. Walker on his time at the New Yorker.

 “. . . it was like fighting a revolving door in a blizzard. You can’t win, but anger doesn’t get you anywhere either. “

I guess.

So long as there is generous time available for much lucubration.

3.30.2022 – just ‘not right’ you know?

just ‘not right’ you know?
touch of the flu, a slight sprain
a tad overwhelmed

I am not sure how bad a ‘touch’ of the flu is.

I am not sure how bad a ‘slight sprain’ is.

How much overwhelmed is a ‘tad overwhelmed’?

You got the flu or you don’t.

It’s sprained or it’s not.

If things get worse, are you more overwhelmed?

Then just ‘not right’ does seem to work.

It is not right.

It is not what I would choose.

Is it not all the way to being wrong, well, gee whiz.

Then I think of this line from Wobegon Days, by Garrison Keillor.

When I was a boy, if I came around looking glum and mopey, [my mom would say], “What’s the matter? Did the dog pee on your cinnamon toast?” and the thought of our old black mutt raising his hind leg in the pas de dog and peeing on toast made me giggle.

Well it might be just ‘not right’ but no dog climbed up on the table and peed on my toast.

And the picture does make you laugh.

And I don’t feel so fluish.

My ankle doesn’t hurt.

And I seem to hold off the incoming tide for a bit.

And I’ll go make some toast.

Growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in a family of 11 kids, we all had our days and we all had our favorite things to do.

My little brother Pete loved to have toast for a snack, morning, noon and night.

We could be watching TV and Pete was gone soon to return with a plate of two pieces of cinnamon toast.

It could be late at night.

Middle of the afternoon.

For some reason it was those moments when our family would return from being somewhere, anyway, the store, a family party, church or anything where we were all gone and we would pile out of the car in fall into the house and Pete would make a beeline for the bread box and the toaster that stick in my mind.

We all knew about his habit.

And we all knew when he made toast.

We all knew because Pete never ever, so far as I know and I will have to check with his kids, learned how to operate a toaster.

Or, Pete like burned toast.

For him, the smell of burning toast was the signal the toast was done.

I don’t know what you remember about your home as a kid but in the days before people started burning popcorn in a microwave, there was few household smells worse than burning toast.

I came to hate and still hate that smell.

I would see Pete get up with the ‘I need toast’ look in his eye and start feeling just ‘not right’ right then.

It made me sick though I am not sure if it was the smell or worrying that I would have to smell it the rest of the night.

And then Pete would get up and burn some more toast.

He would come back to the TV room with his plate of charcoal and I would ask him, why, why do have to burn it.

I think I even offered to make toast for him.

I can smell it to this day.

The next time I am feeling just ‘not right’ you know? A touch of the flu, a slight sprain or a tad overwhelmed, I am going to think of a dog coming in a peeing on Pete’s toast.

Not sure what good it will do but I bet it will sure make me feel better.

3.29.2022 – find the relation

find the relation
between incompatible
and affinity

Adapted from A Letter to a Young Poet by Virginia Woolf Published by Leonard & Virginia Woolf at The Hogarth Press, 52 Tavistock Square, London, W.C.1 1932

That perhaps is your task—to find the relation between things that seem incompatible yet have a mysterious affinity, to absorb every experience that comes your way fearlessly and saturate it completely so that your poem is a whole, not a fragment; to re-think human life into poetry and so give us tragedy again and comedy by means of characters not spun out at length in the novelist’s way, but condensed and synthesised in the poet’s way—that is what we look to you to do now.

3.28.2022 – one small step for man

one small step for man
one giant leap for mankind
did step on the moon

What did Neil Armstrong say when he landed on the Moon?

I mean okay, after he said Houston …

What did he say when he first stepped on the Moon?

The writers at NASA crafted this great line that he memorized but when he said it there was a buzz of static and the world remembers that he said, “one small step for man …’ and then said, “one giant leap for mankind.”

The goofy thing is I was 9 and I distincly heard FOR MAN and wondered what the difference was between MAN and MANKIND.

But NASA issued the press release that said Mr. Armstrong said, “A MAN.”

Mr. Armstrong said he said, “A MAN”

As in “One small step for A man.”

Which works much better with “One giant leap for mankind.”

What is funnier is that the third man on the moon, Pete Conrad, the mission commander of Apollo 12, who was shorter than Mr. Armstrong, said, “That might have been one small step for Neil, BUT WHOOOEEEEE.”

I guess in a way it IS more important that Mr. Armstrong steps were out on to the moon.

And he was the first to do it and that isn’t going to change.

But I came across another Neil Armstrong footnote yesterday that I was not aware of and I read a lot of these ‘early days of NASA’ books.

Yesterday I went in pursuit of the song, Fly Me to the Moon.

The information I came across again and again referred to the the fact that NASA had adopted the tune as a sort of theme song for the entire space program.

I thought that was interesting but not worth mentioning.

Not worth mentioning until I went search for a you tube video of the song.

I said yesterday I found lots and lots of videos of different recordings of Fly Me to the Moon.

One of them was of Jazz Great Diana Krall.

Well gee whiz, a LOT of them were of Jazz Great Diana Krall.

But one had a very odd thumbnail graphic.

I would swear it showed, a piano and Ms. Krall set up … in a church??

I had to click on it and there it was.

At the memorial service for Neil Armstrong, Commander of Apollo 11 and first man to set foot on the moon, Diana Krall performed Fly Me to Moon.

And you know what?

That is just pretty darn cool any way you present it.

Entirely appropriate.

Such a very right thing to do.

So entirely unexpected.

Commander of Apollo 11 and first man to set foot on the moon and Diana Krall performed Fly Me to Moon at your funeral.

That’s a trifecta in any book.

ps – anyone making notes for when the time comes and my ashes are scattered in the out going tide, you can ask Diana Krall to come sing and she can choose the song.

3.27.2022 – fly me to the moon

fly me to the moon
let me play among the stars
fill my heart with song

There are worse songs to have stuck in your head for the last 48 hours.

There are a lot of worse songs to have stuck in your head.

This is the funny part though.

Many of them are this same song.

According to Wikipedia, Fly me to the Moon was recorded and released by any number of well known vocalists as the song In Other Words between its release in 1954 and 1960.

It wasn’t until 1960 when it was recorded by the wonderful Peggy Lee, that Ms. Lee convinced the song writer, Bart Howard to change the name to Fly me to the Moon.

It wasn’t until 1964 that Frank Sinatra recorded the song with Count Basie with a re-arrangement in 4/4 time in place of the original 3/4 time.

A factoid that I can repeat but is completely meaningless to me.

I am happy to report that it is not the voice of Mr. Sinatra that has been going through my brain the last couple of days.

I am not sure what the result on my psyche that might have.

Nothing against Mr. Sinatra or his voice or his talents.

He just not my cup of tea so to speak.

Also in one of those quod-hoc-propter-hoc mental sequences I have this Sinatra block that plays in mind whenever I meet up with Mr. Sinatra in my daily sojourn.

The mental sequence goes like this …

The Johnny Fontaine character in the movie, The Godfather is modeled on Frank Sinatra.

Fontaine sings at the opening wedding scene in the movie, The Godfather.

When Fontaine walks onto the wedding scene he is dressed in a white tux and black bowtie.

The first time my wife saw the movie, The Godfather, when Fontaine walks onto the wedding scene, she said, “I didn’t know Pee Wee Herman was in this movie.”

What do you think of when you watch The Godfather?

I think of Pee Wee Herman.

Somehow I think that story could make Francis Ford Coppola cry.

What do you think of when you hear Frank Sinatra sing?

I think of Pee Wee Herman being in The Godfather.

Somehow I think this thought would get me slugged by Mr. Sinatra.

He did slug Mario Puzo after the movie came out according to some sources.

What do I think when I see Pee Wee Herman?

I think of Don Corleone slapping him, saying, “You can act like a man!”

Goodness but its lonely being me some days.

So back to the song.

I was looking for a song on You Tube the other day.

Of late I have been listening to the music of Tatiana Eva-Marie & Avalon Jazz Band of late (go ahead, it will make your day) and one of the suggested songs by You Tube when I was searched French jazz singers, over there on the right hand margin of YouTubem was this video labeled, Emil Ernebro and Zandra – Fly Me To The Moon and I clicked on it.

It was a two people set up, vocalist and guitar with an stage empty of other musicians but filled with instruments.

The simple setting, like two bands members after a show singing for the pleasure of singing caught me attention.

In the book, The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk writes about hearing a young singer at an audition:

The girl seemed to be singing for the pleasure of friends, rather than for an urgently desired job. This was no great voice, nor even a professional one. It was just such singing as a bright girl who had a love of music and a pleasant voice could accomplish, and it had that peculiar charm denied great performers, the caroling freshness of song for its own sake.

These words got etched in my brain and now I am sucker for music videos like this on You Tube.

I remember when MTV was launched and videos were produced that made the singing of almost any song a matter of life, death and the success of the free world.

With what a lot of these bands went through as portrayed in some of these videos, to sing their songs, it was a wonder anyone would every want to get into music.

Then there are those clips, those recordings of the singing of a bright girl who have a love of music and a pleasant voice with that peculiar charm denied great performers, the caroling freshness of song for its own sake.

Intrigued by the image with the song, I clicked on it.

And I was captivated by the singing of a bright girl with a love of music and a pleasant voice with that peculiar charm denied great performers, the caroling freshness of Fly Me to Moon for its own sake.

My intrigue and interest was rewarded by having the song playing in my brain for the last 48 hours.

Comes this morning when I starting typing in the words of the song because with everything going on in this world, that is what was on my mind because I can’t stop the music.

I start typing the lyrics and the rest of this post just spilled out of my brain through my fingers onto the keyboard.

I think that was evident.

So this post came together and all I needed was a link to the video in question.

Could I find it?


When I searched, Fly Me to the Moon, Could I find anything else but Mr. Sinatra and the like as entries in You Tube.


100s and 100s of links but not the one I wanted.

I was close to the point that maybe I didn’t really hear this song.

It was stuck in head, maybe I made it up in my head.

Replaying last Friday morning over in my brain, I came up with the scrap of information that in the video caption, was the mention that the guitar player in the video was ‘Sweeden’s [sic] premire guitarist’.

With this other piece of information on which hang my search, Fly me to Me Moon Sweden Jazz Great, I am happy to report, I found the video.

For your start to this week, and for no other reason, here is the singing of a bright girl with a love of music and a pleasant voice with that peculiar charm denied great performers, the caroling freshness of Fly Me to Moon for its own sake.

I can only imagine what it be like to write such a song.

I can only imagine what it would like sing such a song.

To sing with with a love of music and a pleasant voice with that peculiar charm denied great performers, the caroling freshness of song for its own sake.

But I can click on it a listen to with the best of them.

And that is good enough for me on a Sunday Morning.

There are worse songs to have stuck in your head.

The lyrics are fun, too.

Fly me to the moon
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars
In other words hold my hand
In other words darling kiss me Fill my life with song
And let me sing forevermore
You are all I hope for
All I worship and adore
In other words please be true
In other words I love you
In other words I love you

Fill my heart with song
And let me sing forevermore
You are all i hope for
All I worship and adore
In other words please be true
In other words I love u

3.26.2022 – here with little on

here with little on
my mind and going nowhere
in particular

Growing up in West Michigan with an eye on reading, I was aware of the writing of Niles, Michigan native, Ring Lardner.

Mr. Lardner was a sportswriter who also wrote short stories, many of which, “Alibi Ike” and “You Know Me, Al” were short stories based on sport.

If you happened to see the 1988 (1988???) movie, “8 Men Out” about the Chicago Black Sox scandal, Ring Lardner is the sportswriter the movie follows to tell the story.

When the movie was made, Lardner’s son, Ring, Jr., was on the set as a consultant and Ring, Jr. said he could not be on the set when the director, John Sayles, who also played the part of Ring, Sr. was in costume as he looked so much like his father.

Like I said, I have always been aware of Mr. Lardner’s writing.

It was said that no one wrote dialogue like Mr. Lardner or as one person put it, his mastery of idiosyncratic vernacular.

If you grew up in West Michigan and you knew of Mr. Lardner and you read anything he wrote that wasn’t about baseball, you most likely read the short story, The Golden Honeymoon, the story that takes place in the 1920’s about a couple from West Michigan that celebrates their 50th wedding anniversary with a month long trip to Florida.

It is written is a way that you can hear the man narrating the trip and telling the entire story – and its quite a story – all in one sitting without taking a breathe.

In a bizarre magical way it starts out rolling and the words don’t stop and all of sudden it is over and you have spent the last 30 minutes of your life in real time on a month long trip to Florida.

Here is a snippet –

I felt sorry for Hartsell one morning. The women folks both had an engagement down to the chiropodist’s and I run across Hartsell in the Park and he foolishly offered to play me checkers.
It was him that suggested it, not me, and I guess he repented himself before we had played one game. But he was too stubborn to give up and set there while I beat him game after game and the worst part of it was that a crowd of folks had got in the habit of watching me play and there they all was, looking on, and finally they seen what a fool Frank was making of himself, and they began to chafe him and pass remarks. Like one of them said:
“Who ever told you you was a checker player!”
“You might maybe be good for tiddle-de-winks, but not checkers!”
I almost felt like letting him beat me a couple games. But the crowd would of knowed it was a put up job.
Well, the women folks joined us in the Park and I wasn’t going to mention our little game, but Hartsell told about it himself and admitted he wasn’t no match for me.
“Well,” said Mrs. Hartsell, “checkers ain’t much of a game anyway, is it?” She said: “It’s more of a children’s game, ain’t it? At least, I know my boy’s children used to play it a good deal.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “It’s a children’s game the way your husband plays it, too.”

You can read the short story here.

It colored my view of making any trip to Florida to this day!

So why was I thinking about Ring Lardner this morning?

I was thumbing through another book by James Thurber titled the Years with Ross, about the operation of the New Yorker Magazine and its founder, Harold Ross.

Ross claimed, so Thurber wrote, that [Ross] “asked Lardner the other day how he writes his short stories, and he said he wrote a few widely separated words or phrases on a piece of paper and then went back and filled in the spaces.

And I came across this passage.

The 1933 scroll was charged with all kinds of things for H. W. Ross. The Depression, which had been aimed directly at him, was still holding on, though getting better (1934 was to be one of the New Yorker’s best financial years). Hitler had risen to power, the banks had closed, Prohibition was soon to become a sorry memory, and the Roosevelt family had come to Washington, thus supplying “Talk of the Town” with dozens of anecdotes and the art department with dozens of idea drawings. In 1933 Ring Lardner died, and the morning World came to an end – major sorrows that saddened Ross and all of us.

It struck me that Thurber, recounting the good and bad that happened in 1933, the fact that Ring Lardner died was enough to make it bad year.

And I thought about that a good long while.

If nothing else it made want to dig out and read Mr. Larder over again.

With little on my mind and going nowhere in particular, its a great day to read.

Doing so I came across the line of words that I assembled into today’s Haiku.

As Frank Lloyd Wright might have said, “there you are.”

3.25.2022 – started machine, can’t

started machine, can’t
stop it, someone else runs it
yet I started it

Adapted from the play, The Cocktail Party (1950) by one Thomas Stearns Eliot, better known by his initials of T. S.

In the play, the character named Lavinia says:

I don’t know why. But it seems to me that yesterday
I started some machine, that goes on working,
And I cannot stop it; no, it’s not like a machine—
Or if it’s a machine, someone else is running it.
But who? Somebody is always interfering . . .
I don’t feel free . . . and yet I started it . .

What is going on?

The pace of each week seems to pick up faster and faster and its Friday when last night was Friday night when we went out for dinner but it wasn’t last night, it was a week ago.

Somewhere someone said years fly, days crawl.

This machine is running and running faster and I started it.

But when did I start it?

I am reminded of a scene in a Jim Harrison book where the hero, now in his 70s finds his journals written in his 20’s.

Our hero reads them, saying to himself, “My God, what will the fool do next.”

3.24.2022 – cannot think of a

cannot think of a
time that is oceanless have
no destination

Adapted from the passage:

Where is the end of them, the fishermen sailing
Into the wind’s tail, where the fog cowers?
We cannot think of a time that is oceanless
Or of an ocean not littered with wastage
Or of a future that is not liable
Like the past, to have no destination.

in Four Quartets, Dry Passages, Part II by TS Eliot.

3.23.2022 – wrestled reality

wrestled reality
thirty five years and happy
won out over

Just once I want to pick up a dictionary and read out loud, “P O O K A – Pooka – from old Celtic mythology – a fairy spirit in animal form – always very large. The pooka appears here and there – now and then – to this one – and that one – a benign but mischievous creature – very fond of rumpots, crackpots, and how are you, Mr. Hoffman?”

Call it chance, mischance, luck, dumb luck or something else but something seems to always being watching out for me, especially when I don’t know it.

I have learned to stop wondering why and sit back and enjoy the ride.

Nevertheless, goofy good things happen to me and have happened to me all my life.

Tonight, I turn on the TV and Harvey was on.

Sorry but I am not sorry and I cannot turn it off.

Too many great lines and performances in this one.

The gem of it of course is the exchange with between Elwood P. Dowd and Dr. Chumley.

CHUMLEY – I would tell her things. Things that I’ve never told to anyone. Things that are locked – deep in here. And as I talked to her, I would want her to hold out a soft white hand and say ‘Poor thing. You poor, poor thing.’

ELWOOD – For how long would you want this to go on, Doctor?

CHUMLEY – Two weeks.

ELWOOD – Two weeks?! Uh – wouldn’t that get a little monotonous? Just Akron, cold beer and ‘poor, poor thing’ for two weeks?

CHUMLEY – No! It would be wonderful!

A story is told that Steven Spielberg want to remake Harvey around 2009 but Tom Hanks said there was no way he would ever DARE try to play Jimmy Stewart.

As an aside, Walter Matthau tells the story that in WW2 when he was in the Air Force in England, he would sneak into 8th Air Force Press Briefings handled by Captain Jimmy Stewart and he would watch Jimmy Stewart being Jimmy Stewart.

Tonight I focused on the line, “Well, I wrestled with reality for thirty-five years, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over.”

I like it so much, I’ll say it again.

Well, I wrestled with reality for thirty-five years, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over.

Nothing about this real world is real.

Happy to say I embrace, wholehearted an alternative reality and my reality isn’t here.

Who thinks these things and writes these things down but that these things were supposed to be written and some folks got chosen to write them down.

And with that I turn to the my favorite lines in the movie.

. . . as the evening wore on.
“The evening wore on.”
That’s a very nice expression, isn’t it?
With your permission, I’ll say it again.
“The evening wore on.”

And with your permission, I’ll say it again, ‘the evening wore on’ and I am going to bed.

3.22.2022 – sulking, suffering

sulking, suffering
optional but pain – pain is

Adapted from the line, “Going around in a sulk will get you nowhere. Pain is unavoidable, but suffering is optional.” in the book, A Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende.

Ms. Allende, according to Wikipedia, has been called the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author.

Who am I to argue with that.

And I read her stuff in english?

It does make me want to learn to read Spanish to see if its different.

The point in the book where Ms. Allende writes this line, one of the main characters is adjusting to the changes in his life since turning 60.

I should be able to relate somewhat and maybe even to the pain he might be feeling or experiencing.

Then I think about his life as recounted in the book.

He fought in the Spanish Civil War on the losing side in the late 1930s.

He was a refuge after the war in France.

He lost his father and brother and maybe his mother (she returns later) in the war.

Surviving being a refuge, he makes a life in Chile until the right wing take over again destroys everything in his life and he ends up a political prisoner in the 1970s.

Rescued he works to make a life in Venezuela and to adjust being 60.

I guess I wouldn’t have much to relate to in the way of pain and suffering after all.

Ms. Allende then writes, “Entropy is the natural law of the universe, everything tends toward disorder, to break down, to disperse. People get lost, feelings fade, and forgetfulness slips into lives like mist. It takes heroic willpower just to keep everything in place.

And I really had to puzzle over this.

I really need to learn Spanish because this made little sense to me though it seemed so simple, so basic.

What was I missing?

It hit me that back in college one of roommates was always talking about entropy.

He was studying geological engineering (he went to invent a bomb for the Air Force that will go through 100s of feet of rock before it explodes) and to him, and because of him, I thought of entropy as a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work.

And I just couldn’t see where Ms. Allende was going.

Was this lost on translation?

I thought of copying the passage into the Google translator and then translate that back into English to see what happens.

But that seemed like a lot of work.

Was there another use of the word, Entropy?

Into the google we go and glad I did as there is another meaning.

In this situation, I am sure Ms. Allende meant Entropy to mean “a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder”

That works.

That works nicely.

The lack of order or predictability; the gradual decline into disorder, is the natural law of the universe, everything tends toward disorder, to break down, to disperse.

People get lost, feelings fade, and forgetfulness slips into lives like mist.

It takes heroic willpower just to keep everything in place.

On the other hand, the radio was playing Beethoven’s 1st Piano Concerto as I typed this out.

When it finished, the program presenter commented, with an honest enthusiasm in his voice, “As fresh as it was the day it was written!”

Thinking the way I was thinking about disorder and gradual decline, this statement made me think.

As fresh as it was as the day it was written.

Written by Beethoven when he was 24.

And we have had access to it since then.

A hedge against disorder.

A wall against decline.

It didn’t breakdown, disperse or get lost in the mist.

The heroic willpower of a 24 year kid keeping everything, well, somethings, in place for all us for centuries.

Pain is unavoidable.

Sulking and suffering are optional.

Just one more reason I am grateful God created music.